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Archive for December 12th, 2009

Blackwater’s CIA Connection

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:46 am by HL

Blackwater’s CIA Connection
Reports are coming out that mercenaries from Blackwater Worldwide played central roles in some of the CIA’s most sensitive missions, including clandestine raids and the transport of detainees. Many guards claimed that Blackwater’s participation was so routine that the lines between military and contractor were blurred.  —JCL The New York Times: Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials. The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said. Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield. Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States. Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

Reports are coming out that mercenaries from Blackwater Worldwide played central roles in some of the CIA’s most sensitive missions, including clandestine raids and the transport of detainees. Many guards claimed that Blackwater’s participation was so routine that the lines between military and contractor were blurred.? —JCL

The New York Times:

Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

Read more

READ THE WHOLE ITEM


House Passes Major Financial Regulation Bill
In what is being hailed as the biggest bid to change financial regulation since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the House of Representatives on Friday passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. The legislation now moves to the Senate. In a press conference after the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed, “We are sending a clear message to Wall Street: The party is over.” Is the party, in fact, over? And what impact might the new legislation have on consumers, banks and homeowners? The Associated Press whipped up a handy Q & A article (click here) to address these questions. —KA AP via Google News: The sprawling legislation would give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to oversee consumer banking transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that have escaped the oversight of regulators. The vote was a party-line 223-202. No Republicans voted for the bill; 27 Democrats voted against it. While a victory for the administration, the legislation dilutes some of President Barack Obama’s recommendations, carving out exceptions to some of its toughest provisions. The burden now shifts to the Senate, which is not expected to act on its version of a regulatory overhaul until early next year. The president praised the House action Friday, and called on Congress to act swiftly to get the bill to the White House for his signature. “The crisis from which we are still recovering was born not only of failure on Wall Street, but also in Washington,” Obama said. “We have a responsibility to learn from it and to put in place reforms that will promote sound investment, encourage real competition and innovation and prevent such a crisis from ever happening again.” Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

NYSE

In what is being hailed as the biggest bid to change financial regulation since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the House of Representatives on Friday passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. The legislation now moves to the Senate. In a press conference after the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed, “We are sending a clear message to Wall Street: The party is over.”

Is the party, in fact, over? And what impact might the new legislation have on consumers, banks and homeowners? The Associated Press whipped up a handy Q & A article (click here) to address these questions. —KA

AP via Google News:

The sprawling legislation would give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to oversee consumer banking transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that have escaped the oversight of regulators.

The vote was a party-line 223-202. No Republicans voted for the bill; 27 Democrats voted against it.

While a victory for the administration, the legislation dilutes some of President Barack Obama’s recommendations, carving out exceptions to some of its toughest provisions. The burden now shifts to the Senate, which is not expected to act on its version of a regulatory overhaul until early next year.

The president praised the House action Friday, and called on Congress to act swiftly to get the bill to the White House for his signature.

“The crisis from which we are still recovering was born not only of failure on Wall Street, but also in Washington,” Obama said. “We have a responsibility to learn from it and to put in place reforms that will promote sound investment, encourage real competition and innovation and prevent such a crisis from ever happening again.”

Read more

READ THE WHOLE ITEM



Conservative Groups Load Up For Major Anti-Health Care Ad Push

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:45 am by HL

Conservative Groups Load Up For Major Anti-Health Care Ad Push
A host of conservative groups are ramping up their efforts to derail health care reform in Congress, spending more than $3.91 million for a fresh…

Spending Bill Has $4 Billion In Pork
Just weeks before returning to their districts for Christmas, Congress is poised to give the gift of pork – roughly $4 billion of it. More…

Chris Weigant: Friday Talking Points [104] — Washington Frenzy
Before we begin, I’d like to offer up an apology to Tiger Woods. Last week, I pointed out the hilarity of Woods being a paid…

Huff Radio: Left, Right & Center: Nobel Speech, Bank Bonuses, Health Care, Blackwater and the CIA
Obama’s muscular moralism? Irreconcilable concepts? A new direction? LRC weighs in on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

Mike Nellis: Sen. Pat Roberts Compares Health Care Reform to Pearl Harbor
Just moments ago on the House floor. H/T Media Matters: I would say that after the remarks by the distinguished leader, that this may be…


Bolton falsely suggested Obama said “treaties and declarations” more important to post-WWII security than U.S. role

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:44 am by HL

Bolton falsely suggested Obama said “treaties and declarations” more important to post-WWII security than U.S. role

Fox News contributor and former United Nations ambassador John Bolton falsely characterized President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, claiming Obama suggested “it’s the treaties and declarations that were the centerpiece” of post-World War II global security “and the United States made a small contribution here or there.” In fact, Obama suggested that while “the world” may believe that it was “just treaties and declarations” that “brought stability to a post-World War II world,” Obama himself also attributed it to how “The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms,” which he stated “has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea.”

Bolton twisted Obama’s speech to claim he attributed post-WWII global security to “treaties and declarations” over U.S. “contribution”

From the December 10 edition of Fox News’ On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

BOLTON: OK, then just a few paragraphs later, he [Obama] says, talking about setting up the role of the United States, which many people said was a positive to the speech, he gets to it by saying that stability after World War II was brought about, quote, “not just treaties and declarations that brought stability but the fact the United States helped underwrite global security.” As if to say it’s the treaties and declarations that were the centerpiece, and that the United States made a small contribution here or there. In fact, it was the American nuclear capability after World War II and the strength of the military alliances led and dominated by the United States that brought stability and defeated the Soviets in the Cold War. That didn’t seem to make it into the speech.

While suggesting “the world” may believe “treaties and declarations” established post-WWII “stability,” Obama touted U.S. role

Obama made clear his belief in the key role of U.S. in “underwrit[ing] global security” post-WWII. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Obama said that “the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world.” He continued: “[T]he plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.” From Obama’s 10/9/2009]


Police Report On Jetton Incident Released

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:43 am by HL

Police Report On Jetton Incident Released
New information has emerged about the allegations that led to felony assault charges being filed against a former top Missouri GOP pol, in connection with a November sexual encounter.

In Boldest Move Yet, Arpaio And Ally Charge Judge With Bribery, Despite Lack Of Evidence
In their most brazen move yet, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a close ally have charged a judge who made rulings they disliked with bribery and corruption — despite essentially no evidence.

Oil Lobby Photo Altered To Present Racially Diverse Image
A promotional photo for an oil lobby group was doctored in order to present a more racially diverse image, with two white men turned into non-whites.



Mark Sanford’s Number Two First Lady

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

Mark Sanford’s Number Two First Lady


Meet Joe Bageant: One of America’s Best Redneck Populist Writers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

Meet Joe Bageant: One of America’s Best Redneck Populist Writers
Have you been missing out on one of AlterNet’s most popular authors? Here are 10 of Bageant’s best works from the year.

Have you been missing out on one of AlterNet's most popular authors? Here are 10 of Bageant's best works from the year.

Afghanistan: How the War Hawks Caged Obama
How a desire for bipartisanship and peace within his own party led Obama to appoint a hawkish cabal that pushed him to a renewed war in Afghanistan.

How a desire for bipartisanship and peace within his own party led Obama to appoint a hawkish cabal that pushed him to a renewed war in Afghanistan.

The Religious Right’s Potty Paranoia
Public restrooms: The final frontier of the right’s war on queer folk?

Public restrooms: The final frontier of the right's war on queer folk?

There’s More to Sex Than a Cum Shot to the Face: What Men Should Unlearn from Hardcore Porn
No, porn does not turn men into crazed sex fiends. But it’s clear that pornography has affected the way we view — and have — sex. Here’s how to counter porn’s effects.

No, porn does not turn men into crazed sex fiends. But it's clear that pornography has affected the way we view — and have — sex. Here's how to counter porn's effects.


Misunderstanding July 2011?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:37 am by HL

Misunderstanding July 2011?
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) is speaking at Brookings today on the Obama administration’s course in Afghanistan. His speech, while largely supportive of the frame that Obama has brought to the challenge — a narrowed mission, discussion…


AfghanistanCarl LevinUnited States Senate Committee on Armed ServicesObama administrationAsia

The Ones That Got Away
TPMCafe is proud to announce (once again) the return of “The Ones That Got Away”: a weekly roundup of the stories and posts from Cafe and wide world of TPM that slip through the cracks….


Talking Points MemoCapitol HillArtsTPMCafeUnited States


Asked How He Knows The Earth Is Cooling, Michael Steele Says ?I Don?t!?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:36 am by HL

Asked How He Knows The Earth Is Cooling, Michael Steele Says ?I Don?t!?
Earlier this year, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele ridiculed the notion that the Earth is warming, arguing instead that the world is actually “cooling,” citing the supposed examples of Iceland and Greenland: STEELE: We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my […]

Earlier this year, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele ridiculed the notion that the Earth is warming, arguing instead that the world is actually “cooling,” citing the supposed examples of Iceland and Greenland:

STEELE: We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? No very long.

“I’m embarrassed for the Republicans,” one Discover Magazine blogger wrote of Steele’s comments. Yesterday, a reporter from the local Fox Tampa affiliate asked Steele how he knows the Earth is cooling. “I don’t!” Steele exclaimed:

Q: Global warming, you say the earth is cooling. Michael how do you know for sure?

STEELE: I don’t! I don’t! But apparently neither does anybody else! Ok? I don’t. All i know is every morning I come on, I turn on channel 13 and I’ll see what the weather man tells me okay?

Watch it (starting at 7:15):

Steele doesn’t know how he knows “we are cooling” because there isn’t any evidence to support that claim. It’s a political tactic the right wing uses to obstruct meaningful action to address climate change.

Climate experts and scientists reject the idea that a number of relatively cool years in the last decade are any indication of “global cooling.” “It is a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge to point to one year as the warmest on record…and then to extrapolate that cooler subsequent years invalidate the reality of global warming and its effects,” U.N. World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Michael Jarraud said. In fact, independent statisticians have called the global cooling myth “not scientifically legitimate.”

Of course, the actual science is clear. This has been the hottest decade in recorded history. Climate change is real. The earth is warming, and it is man-made. But as Steele said during his Tampa Fox affiliate interview, “I’m still tryin’ to find a brother who will tell me, ‘This is the temperature that it should be,’ so, you know, we don’t know.” But just because Steele doesn’t know, doesn’t mean “we” don’t.

Beck Denies He Has Inspired Any Violence: ?Where Is The Evidence? ? Show It To Me?
The plot of this week’s Law & Order SVU revolved around a killer who was inspired by a fictional right-wing talk show host to kill children of immigrants. Defending his client’s actions, the killer’s attorney says the man is “just a symptom” of the “cancer spreading ignorance and hate” that is “Garrison [the fictional host], […]

The plot of this week’s Law & Order SVU revolved around a killer who was inspired by a fictional right-wing talk show host to kill children of immigrants. Defending his client’s actions, the killer’s attorney says the man is “just a symptom” of the “cancer spreading ignorance and hate” that is “Garrison [the fictional host], Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly.”

Fox News personalities Glenn Beck and O’Reilly were outraged and quickly fired back. O’Reilly called the comments “simply defamatory and outrageous,” and condemned Law & Order creator Dick Wolf as “a coward,” “a liar,” and a “despicable human being” who is trying to push a “progressive point of view.” For his part, Beck asked “where is the evidence for inciting any violence? Show it to me.” Watch it:

Sadly, there is some evidence to support the notion that Beck, Hannity, and O’Reilly have served as the inspiration for individuals disposed to act out with violence. In July 2008, a Tennessee man went on a “shotgun rampage” in a Unitarian church “during a childrens’ production of ‘Annie,’” killing two and injuring six. Police found a letter, explaining his attack was motivated by “a hatred of liberalism and Democratic leaders.” They also found three books in his home:

[Police] seized three books from Adkisson’s home, including “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television commentator Bill O’Reilly; “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” by radio personality Michael Savage; and “Let Freedom Ring,” by political pundit Sean Hannity.

Richard Poplawski, who killed three police officers in April in Pittsburgh, may have been partially inspired by Beck. Poplawski “bought into…conspiracy theories hook, line and sinker” and was motivated by a belief that President Obama would “outlaw guns.” Beck and other right-wing pundits pushed the false notion that Obama would ban firearms, leading to a spike in gun sales after his election. Poplawski watched Beck and even posted a clip of Beck and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) discussing FEMA camps — a common subject of right-wing conspiracy theories — to a white supremacist web site.

In May, abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered in the foyer of his church. Prior to this incident, O’Reilly regularly singled out Tiller on his show — there are nearly 1,800 abortion providers in the country — referring to him repeatedly as “Tiller the Baby Killer” and saying that he “executes babies.” Tiller’s name appeared in 29 episodes of “The Factor” between 2005 and Tiller’s death. As Salon’s Gabriel Winant wrote in May, “there’s no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose,” as O’Reilly. Legal and psychological experts event suggested that Scott Roeder — Tiller’s accused killer — might be able to use “the O’Reilly defense” in court. “The deluge of ‘Tiller is a Nazi, mass murderer, baby killer’ verbiage by Mr. O’Reilly surely can drive one into a state of what we in the legal profession call ‘righteous assassination,’” legal expert Jonathan Turley told Huffington Post’s Scott Young.

While Beck and O’Reilly are not directly responsible for any of these incidents, their hate-filled rhetoric has indeed been shown to incite angry or unbalanced listeners.


South Carolina’s Jenny Sanford emerges as the woman in charge

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

South Carolina’s Jenny Sanford emerges as the woman in charge
In the end, there were differences she could not reconcile.

Child hunger an increasingly complex problem
PHILADELPHIA — Three weeks before he was elected president, Barack Obama set an audacious goal: end hunger among children in the United States by 2015.

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Senator’s antiabortion stand leaves him with moral dilemma on health-care reform bill
When he took office in 1991 as Nebraska’s governor, Ben Nelson was one of just two Democratic governors opposed to abortion rights. The other, Robert Casey Sr. of Pennsylvania, soon found that position played no small role in denying him a speaking role at the party’s 1992 national convention.

Lawmakers seek action on carp nearing Great Lakes
Members of Congress are demanding emergency action to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and devastating a $7 billion fishery.



Obama in Oslo

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 12th, 2009 5:31 am by HL

Obama in Oslo

Bernanke Can Do More to Create Jobs
Paul Krugman, New York Times
Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, recently had some downbeat things to say about our economic prospects. The economy, he warned, "confronts some formidable headwinds." All we can expect, he said, is "modest economic growth next year "” sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate, but at a pace slower than we would like."Paul Krugman Actually, he may have been too optimistic: There's a good chance that unemployment will rise, not fall, over the next year. But even if it does inch down, one has to ask: Why isn't…

How to Break the Climate Impasse
Hampson & Zartman, Globe and Mail
+ Show all sections Invalid Email/Password combination. Passwords are case sensitive. Please check your CAPS lock key. Forgot your password? Don't have an account? Register now. Enter your email address above and click submit to have your account information e-mailed to you. Don't have an account? Register now. Please check your email for a message from the Globe and Mail online with the subject line “Globe and Mail Member Information Request”. To protect your privacy, we only send this information to the email address on file for this account We've sent an email to…

Swingin’ Copenhagen
Dennis Miller, Washington Examiner
So it's come to this. If, and I say if only because it isn't, global warming is a man-made desecration of the planet, the head table of that desecration has been set up this week in Copenhagen under the aegis of stopping the man-made desecration of the planet. Crazy, huh? But there is a darker vibe about the craziness this time around. I used to feel it was funny crazy, UFO-Loch Ness crazy. Now though, it's becoming disturbing crazy. In the wake of the publishing of the East Anglia e-mails, I'm beginning to see a Roy Cohn-at-Tailgunner-Joe's-side quality in some of…